Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 2: Human Doll Contract Part Two
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Confused; Confined by Part 1—The First Clash Between Lies and Truth—translated by lucathia (proofread by Trespasserby)
House Keeper knocked on the door and patiently waited for the other person to open it.
Soon after, Jiang Yu pulled open the door and smiled warmly. “Did you need to borrow something?”
As she spoke, she looked curiously at the person behind House Keeper. It was actually a foreigner. Even though House Keeper’s eyes were dark green, making him look like someone of mixed descent, the one behind him was blond-haired and blue-eyed. He was completely a foreigner.
“No.” House Keeper took a step back and introduced the person behind him. “This is my younger brother, Hold Keeper. He recently moved in with us, so I brought him over to greet you.”
They’re brothers? Jiang Yu was momentarily stunned. She had really never seen brothers who looked so unalike. Their only similarity was their handsomeness, but what little brother would come to stay at his older brother’s girlfriend’s home?
House Keeper took the initiative to explain, “We are brothers with the same father but different mothers, so we are not very alike. Many people find it difficult to believe that we are brothers.”
A laugh escaped from Jiang Yu, and she said, “Can’t blame them. You two really are very different. Is your brother here to visit?”
“He came from overseas to study abroad in Taiwan. He plans to stay for two years.” House Keeper explained with a gentle smile, “Hold Keeper’s Chinese isn’t up to par yet. Please forgive him for his blunders.”
Hold Keeper took a step forward and bowed slightly. He spoke with a smile, “I am Hold Keeper. I am in your care.”
Jiang Yu was a bit overwhelmed by the greeting. No one was that courteous nowadays. She hurriedly said, “We’re all neighbors. There’s no need to be so polite. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”
Hold Keeper turned his head to glance at House Keeper, like he was asking him for permission. House Keeper smiled slightly. “Let’s head in for a bit. They have two adorable girls. You know of them, too.”
Oh wow! What kind of well-behaved child is this? Jiang Yu was a bit shocked. In this age, there actually still exists a younger brother who gives so much respect to his older brother? He even turned to ask his brother first. You only see something like that from young children!
“Okay.” Hold Keeper said with great humbleness, “Then, we’ll be bothering Sǎosǎo.”1
Jiang Yu couldn’t help feeling a bit nervous. She quickly welcomed them inside and rushed off to make the tea and prepare the snacks.
The moment Jiang Yu went into the kitchen, Hold Keeper dropped all of his courteousness. He glanced at his “brother” out of the corner of his eye and said, “I told you I could pull it off. There’s no need for you to fret.”
“You pulled it off too well.” House Keeper said flatly, “Didn’t you see her shock? No one is that polite these days.”
“Are you in any position to tell me about politeness?” Hold Keeper said in frustration, “Besides, you told me to be polite, and now you’re saying it’s wrong to be polite?”
“I am not saying it’s wrong, just that you overdid it,” House Keeper replied calmly.
“How did I overdo it?” Hold Keeper frowned and said, “Rather, I was too impolite. Not only did I not wear formal clothes, my words were too straightforward. I didn’t use a bunch of deferential words, and furthermore, I didn’t embellish my speech. I didn’t even bring a gift, even though I don’t want to give anything…”
House Keeper fell silent. He really didn’t know how to explain it to the other person. Previously, he had already flipped through the other one’s story. Compared to himself, the content of Hold Keeper’s story was even more distant from present day life than his.
He looked at the clothes Hold Keeper was wearing. In actuality, those were his clothes, not Hold Keeper’s. If he had worn those grandiose priest robes out, anyone would be able to tell there was something off about Hold Keeper. It was even worse than his dress shirt, dress pants, and vest combo. He really didn’t know why Mistress had agreed to buy him those clothes.
Perhaps I should ask Mistress to order some everyday clothes? House Keeper began to realize that his own outfit could not really be considered “normal” enough.
“What are you staring off into space for?” Hold Keeper lowered his voice and said, “Where are those two little girls?”
House Keeper looked around the apartment. The layout was exactly the same as his mistress’s apartment, just that the décor was completely different. This place had several small decorations, the walls were covered with pastel, flowery wallpaper, and the color of the curtains and tablecloth were both similarly rather soft. Compared to Mistress’s home, it looks… warmer? I think that is the word?
Perhaps I should also decorate the apartment like this? But wallpaper with small flowers does not seem to fit the swords and weapons on the walls…
“Really, what are you staring off into space for? Don’t forget our business.”
Hold Keeper felt exasperated. He had only come over to see if he could help. The one who had to do the actual task wasn’t him, yet that person who was supposed to do the deed kept staring off into space.
House Keeper returned to his senses and said nonchalantly, “They are probably asleep. Children sleep a lot. It is just past noon. They should be taking an afternoon nap.”
Hold Keeper said in a low voice, “How about I detain the mother, and you head into the room to dispose of the kids?”
“Do you want to kill me?” House Keeper said flatly, “My disappearance would do you no favors. Mistress would make you do the housework. I am of the opinion that you would be unwilling to do such things.”
Hold Keeper’s face reddened, and he bit out angrily, “Who wants to kill you? Didn’t that woman want us to come and get rid of those two girls?”
“Just one.” House Keeper frowned. Hold Keeper didn’t even listen to Mistress’s words clearly. “We are only opposing the artifact demon. We must not ever provoke the other one.”
Hold Keeper waved his hand impatiently, but he glimpsed Jiang Yu coming over with a platter through the corner of his eye. He immediately dropped his waving hand, sat up straight and tall, a faint smile on his face. His appearance and actions were impeccable.
Jiang Yu couldn’t help straightening upon seeing him. House Keeper already made people feel he was very “polite.” Fortunately, he seemed rather gentle and easy to approach, like he would be easy to get along with.
However, this Hold Keeper was already eye-catching enough with his blond hair, blue eyes, and beautiful appearance. Even his actions were so elegant that his entire person gave off a strange, powerful aura. No matter how you looked at him, he should be the type to be kept at a palace… Right, right! Once she thought of a palace, Jiang Yu felt that this Hold Keeper was practically like a prince!
Yet right now, the background behind the prince is wallpaper dotted with small flowers. It doesn’t fit at all!
Jiang Yu felt the urge to move a pot of roses to place behind him as the background.
“We only have Tieguanyin oolong tea right now, and some jujube walnut cakes.” Jiang Yu was a bit distressed. Shouldn’t this prince have something like black tea with biscuits and the like instead?
“Thank you for the welcome.” House Keeper quickly added on, “Sorry for making you go through this trouble.”
Hold Keeper also expressed his thanks by inclining his head. He said rather elegantly and gently, “You have my gratitude for the tea and snacks.”
Jiang Yu decided to keep her gaze on House Keeper more. This Hold Keeper really made her feel too much pressure.
“Yu Shu seems very busy lately?”
Truthfully, she didn’t see Yu Shu often, mostly only interacting when they waited for the garbage truck. However, recently, House Keeper had been the one taking out the garbage, so she hadn’t seen Yu Shu for a long time already. But she didn’t eliminate the possibility that she was too lazy to take out the trash, tossing the job at her boyfriend.
Even though they hadn’t been acquainted for long, Jiang Yu already thoroughly understood Yu Shu’s lazy personality.
House Keeper swallowed the tea that had been in his mouth and nodded. “Her manuscript is giving her some trouble.”
In actuality, she was behind on her manuscript because she had previously been busy with readying a doll for Hold Keeper to use as a body. Now, she was being badgered by her editor, drinking coffee like water every day to rush out her manuscript.
“She’s always shut away at home and won’t even go out for a walk.” Jiang Yu said worriedly, “That’s not good for her health! House Keeper, you have to persuade her otherwise.”
“I will do my best.” House Keeper couldn’t reveal that his mistress actually did go “out” for walks, just that this “out” was in the barrier dimensions he and Hold Keeper were from. She did not even need to leave through the door to go there.
“Gē, didn’t you say there are two little girls?” Hold Keeper finally couldn’t keep quiet. If they kept dallying like this, when would they ever accomplish their task?
Jiang Yu glanced at Hold Keeper, whose face held a trace of impatience, making him appear like an impatient young man. He didn’t give off overwhelming pressure like before.
Seems like his courteous appearance from earlier was just the way he treats strangers. Once we’re more familiar, I probably won’t see that “prince” appearance much anymore.
Jiang Yu couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. She glanced at him again, much more at ease with what she saw. This Hold Keeper was rather handsome. Sitting together with House Keeper, the two brothers were a feast for the eyes.
Scrutinizing House Keeper and Hold Keeper, these two youngsters, Jiang Yu suddenly felt something was odd. “Hold Keeper, how old are you?”
Hold Keeper was taken aback. He had asked about the little girls, yet he got asked about his age in return. He couldn’t digest the question right away, yet he didn’t think about it either before he replied, “Twenty-three.”
Youngster? Jiang Yu laughed at herself. Hold Keeper was actually older than her, yet she called him a youngster. Really, just because I’m married and have kids, I’ve forgotten that I’m only just past twenty.
“Then, how about you, House Keeper?” Since she had already asked one of them, Jiang Yu grew curious and asked the other one too while she was at it.
“I am twenty-five,” House Keeper answered with a tranquil smile. Even though Hold Keeper rolled his eyes at him, his expression didn’t change at all.
In the books, he was over one hundred fifty, but of course he couldn’t speak the truth. He also couldn’t say that he wasn’t even one year old—it hadn’t been a year since Yu Shu had created him.
“Then, how old is Yu Shu?” Jiang Yu got addicted to asking and happily continued her inquiries.
“She is twenty-eight.”
It’s a case of the girl’s older?!
Jiang Yu’s love for gossip reared its head. In the first place, Yu Shu was always shut away at home, yet a handsome boyfriend of mixed descent had suddenly appeared. That was already a huge piece of gossip, and she had wanted to ask for the details from Yu Shu. Unfortunately, House Keeper was always the one to take out the trash after that. She hadn’t been very familiar with him then. It wasn’t like she could latch onto him to ask about how they had started going out.
But, now that we’ve waited together for the garbage truck so many times, we should be familiar enough for me to ask, right?
“House Keeper, how did you get to know Yu Shu?”
Jiang Yu’s eyes were nearly shining. The housewife circle was small, and she was too young to have an easy time joining the other housewives in their circle. These days have been so boring! Now that she had gossip to hear, she didn’t want to miss out on the chance at all.
House Keeper paused. To his side, Hold Keeper actually didn’t continue asking about the two little girls either. He tossed aside their business, instead watching on gleefully.
“I read her books and liked them a lot, so I wrote her an email. That’s how we got to know each other.”
House Keeper would have to tell his mistress when they returned later so that their stories would match, but Mistress was currently so busy with her manuscript that she couldn’t see straight. He didn’t know if the words would get through to her even if he spoke right next to her ear.
Jiang Yu had a sudden realization. So they’re online friends. That does fit Yu Shu a lot.
“Did you originally live in Taiwan?”
After meeting Hold Keeper today, Jiang Yu had the feeling that these brothers who made others feel so much pressure probably hadn’t grown up in Taiwan.
“No, we did not originally reside in Taiwan.”
Jiang Yu nodded. He had traveled thousands of miles to meet his girlfriend. No wonder both brothers stayed with Yu Shu. Yu Shu lived by herself anyway. Living together meant they could split the rent.
House Keeper was pondering whether to make up that he was from England or that he was from the United States of America when Jiang Yu stood up. Hold Keeper pulled on his sleeve to remind him to guard his expression.
Two little girls were rubbing their eyes as they walked out of their room. Their two identical little faces had the adorable appearance of having just woken up.
House Keeper retained his smile. He turned and told Hold Keeper, “These are the twins from their family. Aren’t they adorable? I spoke no falsehoods.”
“They really are cute,” Hold Keeper spun the conversation further, saying, “the cutest pair of twins I’ve ever seen.”
Hearing people praise her daughters made Jiang Yu happier than anything. She smiled and said, “The two of you are exaggerating too much.”
“Māma, who are they?” Jiang Jiang looked at House Keeper and Hold Keeper with wide eyes while Xiao Xue clung bodily to her mom’s thigh and refused to even lift her head.
“It’s the boyfriend of the lady across from us, and his younger brother.” Jiang Yu led the two little girls over to the side of the table. She lifted Xiao Xue up, while Jiang Jiang sat obediently beside her.
“What’s a boyfriend?” Jiang Jiang asked in confusion.
Jiang Yu froze. She hadn’t thought that something she had randomly said would actually prompt her daughter to ask this question. She pondered over it and still didn’t want to brush her daughter off. She said, “It’s like how I am with your dad!”
When House Keeper heard that, he retained a smile on his face but felt a strange feeling in his heart. After all, Yu Shu should be considered his “mother,” yet they were pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend. When he had still been an illusion, he had absolutely no opinion over the matter, but now that he had become a lie, he certainly felt that something was off.
Hold Keeper’s gaze even danced with mischievous mirth. This actually made House Keeper give him a sidelong glance. Hold Keeper was an illusory familiar just like how he had been before, yet why were his emotions so rich? It is like he does not lose to me when I have already become a lie?
He could not figure it out, but House Keeper was not that mindful of it, either. In fact, he didn’t care at all whether Hold Keeper was an illusion or a lie. More accurately, he still did not understand why he should care about such matters.
“Māma, I’m thirsty,” Jiang Jiang suddenly said.
“I’ll go and pour some juice for you two.”
Although there was tea on the table, Jiang Yu had never liked giving tea to kids. She stood up, thinking to place Xiao Xue down, but the little girl wasn’t willing to let her go no matter what today. However, she didn’t think much about it, as Xiao Xue was just a kid and probably wanted attention. Not too concerned, she carried Xiao Xue just like that with her to the kitchen.
Jiang Jiang, a lone girl, faced two grown men who were up to no good. However, what was strange was that the vigilant and nervous side was the grown men.
House Keeper looked at the girl and didn’t react much. This one was not his target. If it weren’t because the other might interfere, he wouldn’t even give her a second glance.
The little girl warned, “Don’t you dare bully Xiao Xue.”
“What if I wish to bully her?”
House Keeper spoke with utmost seriousness, yet his expression and words didn’t match at all. Hold Keeper couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the sight. Can you not say that you will bully a little girl so seriously?
However, he didn’t mention anything. This was a battle between a “truth” and a “lie.” Hold Keeper had no power to interfere. No matter how unwilling, he could only listen quietly to the side.
Jiang Jiang narrowed her eyes dangerously.
“Will you step in and hinder us?” House Keeper began assessing whether he had the ability to contend against a truth. Mistress had mentioned that the other had already become a real little girl. As logic went, she shouldn’t be very powerful, but Mistress also said she was not completely certain about it.
Mistress’s words are never that dependable. In addition, he hadn’t been able to catch Xiao Xue by herself for the longest time, so he could only take Hold Keeper with him here to scout around.
If this “truth” were to interfere, then matters would become very complicated.
House Keeper said calmly, “She is only an illusion, while you are already a truth. Do not continue to interfere in such matters. You should slowly ‘forget.’ Only then will you truly become a normal girl in the future.”
“Māma likes Xiao Xue!” Jiang Jiang said with conviction, “Māma and Bàba like that we’re twins, so I won’t let Xiao Xue disappear. She will always be with me. Don’t even think about bullying her in secret. Even if you seek out Yaya-gēge, he won’t help you!”
Hearing that, House Keeper stared at Jiang Jiang without breaking his gaze. A little girl’s appearance really didn’t have any threat to it, yet he felt that this girl wasn’t just bluffing. She truly did have the power to protect Xiao Xue.
House Keeper recalled what Mistress said about meeting Jiang Jiang for the first time and how she had once thrown her out. Now he thought, If they had not been in Mistress’s home where she had the definite advantage, it is probable that even Mistress then could not have chased Jiang Jiang away?
What am I to do now?
Jiang Jiang threatened, “Gēge, both of you have to promise me that you won’t ever hurt Xiao Xue!”
House Keeper shook his head and said, “I am unable to promise that.”
Hearing that, Jiang Jiang narrowed her eyes. She still looked rather cute, but House Keeper felt very unsettled.
“Gēge, you are more troublesome, but if I want that gēge behind you to disappear, that would be simple!”
She looked toward Hold Keeper, who was so angry that he almost jumped up, but House Keeper held him back without letting go. All he could do was continue sitting quietly at his seat, though his expression toward the little girl had already turned hostile.
House Keeper serenely said, “If you make him disappear, Mistress would not let it go.”
“Gēge, if you two make Xiao Xue disappear, I won’t let it go either!”
House Keeper didn’t respond, as Jiang Yu was already carrying a pitcher of juice into the living room. Xiao Xue was still clinging to her thigh without letting go. She wasn’t even willing to lift her head.
“Jiang Jiang, your juice is here.”
“I want it!” As Jiang Jiang drank, she gave Hold Keeper a few disdainful glances, making him so angry that he wanted to toss the walnut cakes in his hands at the little girl’s face.
“We should take our leave now.”
House Keeper stood up. Since he had determined that Jiang Jiang would indeed protect Xiao Xue, there was nothing else he could do. He should hurry home to tell Mistress—Hopefully, she will be able to hear in the midst of rushing out her manuscript.
Besides, the veins on Hold Keeper’s forehead were nearly about to burst. They should leave quickly.
“You’re leaving already?” Jiang Yu was reluctant for them to leave. She finally had such a great gossiping partner, yet she hadn’t even found out much at all yet!
House Keeper smiled and said, “Thank you for your hospitality. Some other day, I will put on afternoon tea. May I ask you to come partake in it with us?”
Jiang Yu immediately nodded nonstop and said, “Yes, I’ll definitely go.” Even though going over so impatiently was kind of rude, she’d just make some desserts to bring over in the future as a return gift. She really wanted too much to get along with the neighbors across from her. That way, she would have people to talk with in the future.
“That’s great. Yu Shu will also be very happy.” House Keeper smiled. Once we are in Mistress’s territory, even a “truth” won’t have the advantage, right?
Jiang Jiang’s ferocious glare seemed to prove that point.
1 “Sǎosǎo”: This is a polite way to address younger, married women.